Nintendo and DeNA are now planning the development of an online membership service accessible from smart devices, Windows PC and Nintendo systems. The membership service is slated to hit later this year.
The duo announced a collaboration that will see them jointly develop games for “smart devices.” Secondly, a service that lets users play games across a variety of devices, including mobile devices, PCs and Nintendo’s own consoles like the 3DS and Wii U is slated to launch “in the fall of 2015″.
At a joint-press conference, Nintendo President Satoru Iwata revealed that talks began as early as the summer of 2010, but became more concrete last year. Iwata admitted that Nintendo wasn’t able to transition to its handheld consoles “as smoothly as expected.” He denied that the growth of mobile means that the business of dedicated games consoles is dead but said it would be a waste to not look at opportunities with smartphones.
“We feel that simply releasing our games just as they are on smart devices would not provide the best entertainment for smart devices, so we are not going to take any approach of this nature,” Iwata said. “Having said that, however, in the current environment surrounding smart devices, we feel that we will not be able to gain the support of many consumers unless we are able to provide something truly valuable that is unique to Nintendo. Accordingly, I have not given any restrictions to the development team, even not ruling out the possibility of making games or using our game characters.
“However, if you report that we will release Mario on smart devices, it would be a completely misleading statement. It is our intention to release some application on smart devices this year that is capable of attracting consumer attention and communicating the value of our entertainment offerings, so I would encourage you to see how our approach yields results.”
Founded in 1999, DeNA may be less known outside of Asia, but it is a multi-billion dollar mobile games firm in its own right. It initially emerged with the growth of web-based mobile games in Japan and its Mobage service, but over the past few years it has transitioned into apps making acquisitions along the way, including the $400 million purchase of Ngmoco, and social games maker Punch.
That transition hasn’t been easy for the company, particularly with competition from the growth of new, dedicated mobile gaming firms that have focused on apps from day one. DeNA’s most recent financials saw revenue dip 17 percent year-on-year to $287 million. Operating profit was down 55 percent to $43 million, so it’s fair to say that this tie-in with Nintendo could be a very important turning point.